Saturday, July 26, 2014

Niagara Falls

As I said yesterday, we stopped by Niagara Falls on our way home from our Indianapolis trip. This was the first time we had a real chance to visit the Falls, even though we've driven through Buffalo a number of times. I expected a kitschy tourist trap, which it is, but the Falls themselves are well worth the trip.


We noticed a white plume of smoke rising in the distance as early as south Buffalo. There are a lot of factories and power plants in the area so I figured it was just a big industrial site, but as we drove across Grand Island and into Niagara, we realized that it was actually the Falls themselves! It's an amazing amount of water.


We arrived after dinner and in a freak rain storm. Luckily, our hotel was across the street from the park where the Falls are located, so we were able to slosh out between showers and see the American Falls lit up with colored lights. We could also watch the nightly fireworks display from our hotel window.

The next morning we got up and headed over to do the Maid of the Mist boat tour that takes you right into the spray at the foot of the waterfalls. Kate HATED the blue ponchos they gave us. She thought it made her look ridiculous and pouted the entire time!

Here is a montage of photos of Kate looking bummed...





At the foot of the much larger Horseshoe Falls, the spray is so heavy it's like being heavily rained on. They sold rubber sandals to people whose shoes had been waterlogged. Pro Tip: wear flip flops!

SPLASH!!

American Falls

Horseshoe Falls
(The red boat is CANADJUNS! Plotting our overthrow, obviously.)

After the boat ride, we had the option to walk up this wooden walkway to view the American Falls up close from the side. Kate refused to walk up, so we recycled our despicable blue ponchos and headed back up the elevator to the top viewing platform.

Maggie Jane, Fearless Adventurer, was thrilled to walk up, so she and Mike forged bravely ahead alone. She loved every minute of it.

After lunch we walked over the pedestrian bridge to Goats Island in the middle of the Niagara River to see the rapids and the Falls from the top.

Rainbow

Horseshoe Falls from above
I had slight anxiety watching my babies hang over this rail watching all that water rush over the edge!

On the way back there was a nice little field of clover to run in. We promised Kate an ice cream and she really perked up.

Adventure Buddies


It was a great trip. We had a wonderful time, loved seeing everyone, had no flat tires, and no one strangled anyone else (let's not talk about that ear infection/pink eye combo). We didn't even have to stop on the side of a mountain in West Virginia to make a tantruming child do a time out this year! We're making a list of all the other amazing places in America we want to take the girls to see next. They'll love it.

Smile!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Road Trippers, Vol. 4

This summer, as we have done every other summer since Maggie was six months old, we loaded up The Little Corolla That Could and drove halfway across America to visit family and friends. Mike and I both love road trips, and now we also love that the girls are getting to be quite the little backseat travelling companions. They hung in there beautifully - even across Ohio! - and they seemed to really enjoy the trip, despite the fact that Kate ended up with a scratch on one eyeball, a slight case of pink eye in the other eye, and an ear infection! Good times.

Our first stop is always an overnight stay in Pittsburgh with my college BFF, Val. Her kids are about the same ages as mine, so they were all immediate, fast friends. I was impressed with how well they got along, even though they were tiny the last time they saw one another and probably don't really remember. My girls are missing Noah and Annalise already.

The main portion of these trips is always spent in Indianapolis at the home of my aunt and uncle, who are the most gracious of hosts. Indy is midway between home and home, so my parents can also drive out and meet us in the middle. They usually bring my grandmother with them, but she was unfortunately not up to the trip this year. We missed you, Grandma the Great!

Kate specifically requested to, "swim and swim and swim," which we did and did and did.




This tiny butterfly landed on Mike's shoulder...

...and then it jumped over to Maggie!


It didn't take the girls long at all to get very daring in the water.

The past couple of trips, we've gone to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, the largest children's museum in the world, but this year we decided to visit the zoo instead. Indy has a great zoo! We've been going to both since I was a little kid.

The new orangutan exhibit

Peeking at zebras

Although Kate was strangely-for-her not into it, Maggie was super excited to Race a Cheetah! She ran fast, but a cheetah is faster (the little red lights on the line above light up at the point where a cheetah would've passed you, based on their average land speed).

Kate rode the seahorse on the carousel...

...and Maggie rode the seal. Picking out the animal they liked best was apparently more important than sitting together!

Stealing Dad's Hat

The sharks were too smart to swim close enough for Maggie to grab them.




On the way home, we stopped in Niagara Falls, NY, which we have never done on all our other travels because we either had a moving truck full of all our worldly possessions or a tiny baby child. Stop back by tomorrow and I'll try my hardest to have our photos of our day at the Falls posted. We had the most perfect weather and Mike got some beautiful shots!

"We really love staying in hotels." - Maggie

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tu(n)esday

HEARTBREAKING
"High Road" off of John Fullbright's new album, Songs:



FUN
"I Know It's Wrong (But That's Alright)" from Hurray for the Riff Raff's recent album Small Town Heroes:



PRETTY
"Are You Behind the Shining Star?" from Trampled by Turtles' upcoming album Wild Animals, due out July 15th.



Buy 'em all! Worth every penny, I promise.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Easter/Spring Break

We just finished about a week and a half of Easter vacation and Spring Break all rolled into one long, exhausting, but wonderful holiday. My parents flew out to spend the first half of it with us and then we wrapped up the week by driving down to Maryland for our niece's birthday. In the course of our adventures we hit nine different states. (OK, Pennsylvania was a wrong exit mistake. Damn you, Jersey Turnpike!)

We had a little Pre-Easter at Mike's parents' the weekend before.
This is one of the best photos he's even taken of the girls.

The girls are at a great age right now for going on adventures with their Nana and Papa.

We went to Salem to wander around town and visit The House of the Seven Gables.

The museum is actually a collection of buildings, including the house Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in, and a beautiful garden overlooking the ocean. The actual House of the Seven Gables (shown) was owned by Hawthorne's cousin, and he was inspired by his visits there to use it as the setting for his novel of the same name in 1851.

Running in the Garden

Papa and Maggie and the Sea.

They have some cute and interesting stuff for kids in the garden and in the former Counting House.

A spinning demonstration in the Jacobean Hooper-Hathaway House (built 1682).

After we left Salem, we went up to Plum Island, but it was too windy to stay on the beach very long. Maggie did not fall in this time!

Dying Eggs on Saturday Night

Easter morning

The following day was Boston Marathon Monday, aka Patriot's Day. It's a holiday for the city of Boston because the crowds and the race route make it almost impossible to get around town or to work. We decided to head out and around to avoid the chaos, and ended up at the Minute Man National Historical Park between Lexington and Concord. It was unintentional as far as the timing, but it turned out to be really cool to be there on Patriot's Day.

Minute Man National Park

The American Revolution began right on this road on April 19, 1775. 1,700 British soldiers marched out of Boston and up the Bay Road to confiscate stockpiled weapons from the colonial militia men. Not only Paul Revere (who went right down Main Street in the town where I live), but also William Dawes and Samuel Prescott rode through the night to Lexington and Concord to warn the colonists. The first shots were fired on Lexington Green at dawn, and then the British advanced to Concord where they were met by more Minute Men on the North Bridge. After the Regulars fired and killed two colonists, the treasonous order to return fire was given. This is the famous "shot heard round the world," after which the colonials chased the British all the way back to Charlestown. At the end of the day, 49 Minute Men and 73 British soldiers were dead. A week later, the British were cornered in Boston (which was on a peninsula at the time) and under a siege that would last 11 months until the war ended.

Mom and Dad on the Battle Road

Hartwell Tavern

Papa teaches Maggie the finer points of tree hugging.

The Hartwell House burned down in 1968, leaving only this enormous chimney stack and cellar foundation. It was fascinating to be able to see in this preservation structure how Colonial era houses were built and heated.


There was plenty of room for the girls to run in the sun...

... and climb trees. Maggie is surely part monkey.

The North Bridge

The Minute Man Statue is behind us.

The next day, we took my parents up to Portsmouth, NH, one of my favorite New England cities. We drove up through Exeter and Newmarket and Durham, which are all quaint little towns, and then wandered through the shops and pretty streets of downtown Portsmouth. Even though it was closed for the winter, we were also able to walk around the Strawbery Banke Museum grounds and look at the colonial and Georgian houses.

Tugboats in Portsmouth Harbor

Eventually we ended up having dinner in Kittery, which is the town directly across the Piscataqua River in Maine. So... Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and then a few days later Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, (Pennsylvania, oops), Delaware, and Maryland. Nine states!

Adventures!

The best part of the trip, though, was just to spend some time with my parents, chatting, playing with the girls, and eating pastries from our local Italian bakery. We had such a wonderful time!